An Economy-Friendly, One Tank Getaway to the Monterey Peninsula

Lots of beautiful and famous travel destinations are becoming more affordable to visit with excellent travel deals, and the Monterey Peninsula is just one such place.

There are a lot of affordable and free, yes even free, activities to do in and around Monterey and Carmel and the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa offers just the property and just the specials to make it all possible. Nightly turn down service and 24 hours in room service may make you feel like you and your traveling partner are living the life of the rich and famous but your pocket book will prove differently when you see the amenities, reasonable rates, and specials this hotel and spa offer.

From one of the many private ocean front balcony rooms, guests can enjoy watching (with or without binoculars) the resident sea life frolic and feast in the sea or fog. Sea otters, and harbor seals, as well as pelicans and cormorants will keep you amused and amazed as you stay at this magnificent ocean front property. Sitting in front of a blazing fire in the lobby or taking a fitness or walking class, even renting a kayak from the private hotel beach below, all offer time-passing options. And if sheer indulgence is your fancy, you’ll want to choose spa treatments overlooking the sea or even a jump on the treadmill or StairMaster in the roof top fitness center while watching the surf below. There’s plenty to do or not do while working up an appetite for one of the award winning eateries on property that all serve ocean front romance.

The Duck Club Grill is the perfect place to start the day with sumptuous and satisfying breakfasts almost as delightful as the scenery. Fresh squeezed orange juice and melt-in-your-mouth pancakes along with beautifully presented egg dishes are only a few of the reasons to plan for a hearty breakfast.

Schooner’s Bistro on the Bay is a favorite of locals but guests also appreciate the friendly hospitality, fresh and delicious seafood and sandwiches and the to-die-for-desserts. We managed to polish off a gigantic bucket of steamed clams while watching the coastline envelope in a fire-blazen sunset. We took desserts back our room; they were too good to pass up.

Both restaurants offer fantastic and healthful soups, salads, entrees, and desserts to please the most discriminating palates.

photo courtesy of Monterey Bay Aquarium

With tummies full, at night you’ll be lulled to sleep by the gentle sounds of the surf and the soothing aroma of fresh sea air. You’ll need the rest for all the fun that awaits close by, and much of it is free. The property’s location on Cannery Row makes it easy to enjoy the area’s endless attractions and activities including the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium just a few short blocks away. The aquarium has interactive, hands on, educational and fascinating exhibits of magnificent proportions.

The range of other activities and attractions nearby is astounding. But to name a few that are frugal and won’t break the bank, you’ll want a romantic stroll along Fisherman’s Wharf, only a couple of minutes away with its quaint shops, theater, and restaurants. Old Town Monterey or the Maritime Museum are worth a peek, or you can take a scenic drive to Carmel, Pebble Beach, 17-Mile Drive, or Big Sur.

One frugal favorite that’s free and continues to excite and inspire for generations is the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History. With its amazing displays of native birds, fish, rocks, wildlife and more, this is a magical place to spend an hour or two that won’t cost a cent.

Another nearly free gem is a hike or drive through Point Lobos State Reserve. With its private coves, beaches, trails, and awe inspiring views, this historical beauty is unparalleled. You will be captivated by flora and fauna at Point Lobos in a way that cannot be duplicated anywhere else on earth.

Point Sur Lightstation is another place to visit that is beautiful and inexpensive to visit. You can take a tour of a piece of California history that sits 361 feet above the surf. It is the only 19th century light station on the west coast open to the public. Point Pinos Lighthouse is located at the most northern tip of the Monterey Peninsula and its beacon has shone since 1855; another great place to explore.

Renting paddle boats on Lake El Estero has been a couples favorite for generations and while you are there, plan to spend an hour or take a picnic lunch to Dennis the Menace Park, another generational favorite of unique slides, bridges and climbing walls. It may be a park geared for kids but it’s fun to stroke the inner child once in a while, and yep, free.

Why not play tennis at the beautiful and historic tennis courts in the Carmel Woods nestled amongst majestic pines. Again—free!

Take a hike to the Indian grinding rocks or majestic waterfalls at Garland Regional Park in Carmel Valley. Yes, again free! Or take in a play or musical performance at the Forest Theater in Carmel where the magic of theater comes alive outdoors while you sip apple cider, staying warm by gigantic bonfires as the mysterious fog envelops the cypress and pines around the stage. You can even bring your own wine and cheese like the locals do.

Of course there are always standard favorites such as sailing and fishing charters, diving, surfing, golfing and other typical, preferred, past times of the Monterey Peninsula. But if you’re looking to take a low key, relaxing, one tank getaway without spending a fortune, the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa offers the perfect hub from which to start your quest for frugal seaside fun that won’t break the bank.